Minnesota manufacturers are projecting a pickup in business and employment over the coming months, according to the Creighton University Minnesota Business Conditions Index for April.
The index climbed from about 57 in March to 61 last month.
April was the 32nd consecutive month that the index stayed above 50, which signals economic expansion.
Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss says Minnesota's employers are hiring and increasing the hours worked by current employees.
"What it's telling us is that right now we're seeing expanding job growth in manufacturing and value-added services, the companies we survey," he said. "But it's also pointing to overall job growth in the state economy in the months ahead."
Goss sees particular strength in durable goods manufacturing. But he says business at non-durable manufacturers, such as food processing companies, is softer due to higher costs for supplies.
U.S. NUMBERS POSITIVE
Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturing grew last month at the fastest pace in nearly a year. New orders, production and a measure of employment all rose.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its index of manufacturing activity increased to 54.8 in April. That's the highest level since June and up from 53.4 the previous month. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Solid growth in manufacturing suggests the slowdown in hiring and factory output in March may have been a temporary lull. Economists have noted that a mild winter may have accelerated some economic activity at the start of the year, making March's data weaker.
The report exceeded analysts' expectations, prompting investors to shift money out of bonds and into stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 80 points in morning trading.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)